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   Sydney

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Rio, Buenos Aires, New York, Paris, London, Tokyo, Sydney - these are the most well known cities in the the world. Sydney is the smallest (and in our opinion the best!), with more that 4 million inhabitants spread out over a large area. It is located in the state of New South Wales, and has a large concentration of migrants and international students. The population is distributed depending on the cultural background. People from Brazil prefer to live near the beaches of Bondi and Manly; The Portuguese congregate in Petershaw, and the Chinese of course in Chinatown. You will literally find all cultural backgrounds in Sydney. Despite being big, it is not chaotic, and aside from some traffic jams (of short duration, Thanks God!), is a very easy place to navigate your way around in. There is everything you can imagine about public transports, handy anywhere, anytime. Because of its popularity, many people think Sydney is the capital of Australia, but it isn't, Canberra is. 
Downtown is served by large avenues and huge high-rises serving as commercial buildings with offices and stores. For first timers, the Centrepoint Tower is the place to go. From the top you have a 360 degree view, which make it easer to plot yourself in relation to the suburbs. Like any big city, downtown is busy and fast - enough to stress anyone who is in the money making game. For a tourist, who enjoys restaurants, and night clubs, it is paradise.

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After you visit the Tower, it is easy to find "Circular Quay". which is located by the sea, right in front of downtown. Also, this area has the biggest concentration of tourist sights such as The Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Between both, you can catch a ferry to the other side of the Bay, including Manly; a Sydney suburb famous for its' beach and lifestyle. These boasts are public transport, so therefore are cheap and a very good way to see Sydney from the sea. To the left of Circular Quay, and just before the Harbour Bridge, you will find a place called The Rocks. This is a preserved older part of the city, so old, that it was in fact the place where Captain Cook landed. (photo). Today the place is an area full of restaurants and bars with many exciting events and presentations happening on weekends.

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Leaving downtown and heading south, the beach of Bondi (photo). is the most famous Australian beach. It attracts a large number of sporty , healthy people to the beach to practice a large number of beach related sports. From Surfing to Beach Volleyball, Kayaking, Windsurfing, you name it. In summer, the beach gets really crowded, sometimes making it difficult to find a place on the sand. (Sharing a towel is a good option at this time!) The water is clear but sometimes cold, and it has shark nets to protect swimmers. On the streets of Bondi, there are many cafes, restaurants and night clubs. Accommodation in backpackers and motels, is popular, particularly for international students.

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North of Sydney, is Manly beach (Photo). It is as easily accessible by boat from Circular Quay, as by public transport that crosses the bridge or the tunnel underneath the bay. Manly is a residential area less crowded than Bondi, but it has been receiving many new residents lately. It is growing very fast and it is losing the magic of "holiday like place" inside Sydney. The beach is long and open, with good waves for surfing. Like Bondi, it has a main street that houses a large number of cafes and restaurants. Prices in Manly are lower than Bondi, because of the distance from downtown, but at the same time, it attracts people with a more laid back lifestyle. On weekends, it can be difficult to find a parking place in front of the beach. The amount of families and beach goers using Manly beach is huge. To the north of Manly, Narrabeen is a 45 minute bus ride and has a beautiful beach which is much less crowded than Manly. There are bus lines serving these places 24/7.

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The Opera House (photo) has a roof that really impresses everyone. It is like a huge and complex Mosaic, made with white ceramic tiles cemented onto the top of the structure. The history of the building is very interesting and long, full of controversy, nationalism, and intrigue. It took 14 years to finish and many times, construction was stopped and almost destroyed by opponents of the concept. Anyway, it became the biggest Australian symbol, after the kangaroo and it is famous worldwide. The architecture impresses from every angle you see it. From very near, from the top, from the other side of the bay, from the bridge, anywhere you go around Sydney Harbour, the Opera house can be seen, and it looks great. Night time with the lights on, the effects are awesome. You can walk around and stop in one of the many cafes and restaurants near it, or you can go for a guided (paid) tour inside to see the 4 theatres and its glamour. To the right of the Opera house, are the Botanical Gardens where you can observe beautiful flowers and plants, right beside the sea. It is free and a great place to spend an afternoon. 

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Left from the Harbour Bridge, Darling Harbour (photo). is another tourist place not to be missed. It has many interesting attractions, including one of the best salt water aquariums in the world. Sydney Aquarium is the place to go to get up close and personal with the monsters of the Australian seas, such as the salt water crocodiles and huge sharks. The aquarium also has many species from the Great Barrier Reef, colourful fish and anemones. Nearby, there is a huge Shopping Complex with souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants. Adjoining the Shopping Centre is the Maritime Museum with lots of interesting, old and historic vessels. From the Shopping Centre, you can take the aerial Monorail, that circumnavigates the City. There are many stations you can get off at , including The Power House Museum. The Powerhouse, is a Museum dedicated to technology, machines, inventions etc. It's very interesting, and a place not to miss.

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Getting out of Sydney and driving West, the Blue Mountains are a great place to spend the day out. They are located about an hour away by bus or car from Sydney and the beauty of the mountains and gorges are spectacular. Eucalyptus trees release a thin oil, which gives the leaves a blue light, characteristic of the region when they come into contact with sunlight. The park is part of the Great Dividing Range, the biggest range in Australia. At Echo Point, visitors will find great cafes, restaurants and art galleries. There are many walking trails available to those who like to explore the local fauna & flora. One of the best sights in the Blue Mountains is a cable car that crosses valleys from one side to the other. The Three sisters, another highlight, is a tall rock formation with 3 identical columns. The park also has many places with waterfalls and accommodation is not a problem if you decide to overnight in neighbouring towns.

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Photos Courtesy New South WalesTourism Bureau.

 

 

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